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Yorkshire Place-Name Meanings T to Y

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T Tadcaster to Tockwith

Tadcaster

This may mean Tada's Caster, the land belonging to Tada on the site of a caster or Roman fort. In 1066 it was known as Tada.

Tees, River

are generally much older than place names and are often the most ancient and most myseterious names in the landscape. British place names and river names have their origins in six major language types. These languages starting with the most recent and working back are Norman-French, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Roman, Celtic and Pre-Celtic. River names are usually Celtic or pre-Celtic. The ancient Celtic name Wear, for example may mean 'Water' or 'River that flows like blood', while Tyne, along with Team, Tame, Thames and Avon are thought to simply mean 'River. These river names occur in many different forms throughout the country and Avon is still used in Wales as a word for river in the form 'Afon', where for example Afon Gwy means River Wye. The name of the River Tees is thought to originate from the time of the Celtic speaking Ancient Britons whose language was similar to present day Welsh. Its name is thought to be related to the ancient Welsh 'Tes' meaning 'sunshine and heat' and is likely to mean 'the boiling, surging water'. 'Boiling' is perhaps a description of the many waterfalls and rapids found in the upper part of Teesdale. A separate theory claims that Tees is a name of pre-Celtic origin, but the pre-Celtic languages of Britain are highly mysterious and often quite unrelated to any modern day tongue.

Thimbleby

The place belonging to a Viking called Thimmel.

Thirkleby

A Viking name meaning Thurgill's village.

Thirsk

Thirsk is a Viking place name and derives from the word Thraesk meaning lake or fen.

Thormanby

The village belonging to a Viking called Thormoth

Thornaby on Tees

Thornaby was the village settled by a Viking called Thormad or Thormoth. The letters 'by' at the end of the name signify a Viking settlement, most probably of Danish origin. Over the centuries there have been a number of different spellings of the name Thornaby including Turmozbi, Thormozbi and Tormozbia in the eleventh century. Later spellings included Thormodby, Thormodebi, Thormotebi, Thormotheby and Thormotby. The form Thornaby first appears in 1665 and refers to old Thornaby village near the River Tees. In the nineteenth century old Thornaby, centred on St Peters Church and the old village green was gradually overshadowed by the burgeoning town of South Stockton. South Stockton was on the Yorkshire side of the Tees opposite Stockton on Tees. South Stockton, became the site of a pottery in 1825 and quickly grew with the establishment of shipbuilding and engineering in the area. Gradually South Stockton grew so big that it swallowed up the little village of Thornaby. On the sixth October 1892 South Stockton and Old Thornaby merged into one to form the municipal borough of Thornaby on Tees.

Thornton le Beans

Thornton means a farm on a small hill with thorn bushes. Beans were grown here.

Thornton le Dale

See Thornton le Beans and Haughton le Skerne.

Thornton Steward

In the twelfth century Thornton Steward belonged to Wymar, the steward to the Earl of Richmond. See Thornton le Beans.

Thornton Watlass

Watlass means water less. See also Thornton le Beans.

Thwaite

A Viking name meaning meadow.

Tockwith

This means Tocca's Vithr, the wood belonging to Tocca.

U Uckerby to Ure River

Uckerby

Thought to mean the home of a Ukkr - a restless Viking.

Unthank

There are a number of Unthanks throughout the north, the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon Unthances, and refers to a farm once occupation by squatters.

Upleatham

This name means the upper slopes. Upleatham is most famous for the tiny twelfth century church of St Andrew which is reputedly the smallest church in England. See Kirkleatham.

Upper Poppleton

Poppleton is thought to mean the pebbly farm.

Upsall

A Viking name deriving from Up-Salir meaning high dwellings. It has exactly the same meaning as the famous university city of Uppsala in Sweden.

Ure, River

An old Celtic name related to the Gaulish river name Isura. The Ure forms the valley of Wensleydale.

W Wakefield to Wycliffe

Wakefield

The field belonging to Wacca.

Warlaby

From Wareloga's by, meaning the village of the traitor.

Wass

This derives from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning swamp.

Wath

From the Viking word for a ford.

Wensley

Originally called Wodensley, it means the ley or clearing dedicated to the pagan god Woden.

West Witton

West Witton means the western woodland farm. The name derives form the Anglo-Saxon Widu-Ton.

Wetherby

A farm or village where Wethers (Castrated rams) were kept.

Wetwang

Wetwang can be found in the Yorkshire Wolds to the east of York. Its name at first sight appears to mean 'the Wet field'. The second part of the name almost certainly means field and derives from the Viking word vangr. Wet seems to derive from the Old English word 'wet' as in 'soaking wet' and early forms of the name consistently use this word. Wetwangha, Wetwanghe, Wetwange and Wetwong are among these early forms. Some place name scholars dispute that the word wet has such a very simple meaning and claim that the name derives from the Viking Vaettvangrr meaning the field of summons for the trial of an action. Their argument is that local tradition claims that the fields hereabouts are not noted for being wet, although the possibility that field drainage could have been improved since Viking times is discounted. Strangely, only five miles to the east of Wetwang is Driffield. This name would normally be explained as meaning a dry field. This explanation is however also disputed and it has been suggested that early forms of the name point to the meaning dirty field or stubble field.

Wharfe, River

A Celtic river name meaning the winding river.

Whipmawhopmagate

The name of a street in the city of York containing the common Viking word gate, from the Old Norse Gata meaning street. It is thought to have been the place where dogs called whappets were whipped on St Lukes Day.

Whitby

The name of Whitbyis Viking and could mean White village, but is more likely to be Hvitabyr -the village belonging to a Viking settler called Hviti. Early variations of the name Whitby are numerous and include Witebi, Witeby and Wytebia as well as Quiteby and Qwyteby, which reflect slightly different pronunciations. In pre-Viking times Whitby was called Streanaeshalch, a Saxon or Celtic name which is of unknown meaning. Streanaeshalch was the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery founded by St Hilda, who came here from Hartlepoolin 650 AD. St Hildas monastery was the home of Caedmon, the Anglo-Saxon poet who has been described as the man "who laid the first great temple of English poetry". In 664 AD Streanaeshalch was the setting for what was known to later historians as the Synod of Whitby a meeting held by Oswy, the King of Northumbria to decide whether his kingdom should adhere to Celtic or Roman teachings of Christianity. The meeting was attended by the king along with St Cuthbert, St Wilfrid and St Colman of Lindisfarne. St Wilfrid who spoke for the Roman cause persuaded the Northumbrian king to abandon the Celtic Christianity in favour of new Roman ways. For centuries Roman Catholocism remained the primary religion of northern England, despite the ravages of the pagan Vikings who attacked the monastery at Streanaeshalch and other Christian centres in 870 AD.$

Wiske, River

An Anglo saxon river name deriving from Wisc meaning damp meadow.

Wombleton

Once called Wimbleton. It means Wynbald's farm.

Wycliffe

Thought to derive from the Withclif. 'With' was an old word for a bend, thus cliffe or hill on a bend in the River Tees.

Y Yafforth to York

Yafforth

Yafforth derives from Ea-ford. Ea is a primitive word for river - so River Ford. The river is called the Wiske.

Yarm

Yarm on the south side of the Tees, was once the most important port on the river. Here industries at one time included ropemaking, brewing, tanning and even shipbuilding. In the seventeenth century Yarms role as a port was superceeded by Stockton and later Middlesbrough. For many centuries Yarm was called Yarum, a name deriving from the Anglo Saxon Gear, pronounced yair, a pool for catching fish. The um on the end of the original name Yarum forms an Anglo-Saxon plural, so Yarm means fish pools. Yarums name, later shortened to Yarm can be compared to that of Kepier near Durham which means the yair where fish were kept. According to a humorous song, the Tees winds around Yarum, to keep out County Darham. The river may have served a defensive purpose in historic times but it has also caused problems, inundating the town on several occasions. Notable floods in Yarm occured in 1753, 1771 and 1783. A marker on Yarm Town Hall shows the seven feet height of the 1771 flood. Ords History of Cleveland (1846) describes Yarms problematic setting - Yonder Fair Yarm, extended in the vale, along the Tees as in a circle lies, ill fated spot, by inundation torn.

Yearby

Derives from the Viking Efri by meaning upper village.

Yockenthwaite

This was the thwaite or meadow belonging to an Irish Viking called Eogan.

York

The Roman name for York was Eboracum, based on a native British name for the ancient site. It is thought that the root of the early name was Eburos, an Ancient British personal name, which suggests that the site was founded by someone called Eburos. An alternative view is that the name is based on the Ancient British word Eburos meaning Yew, a sacred Celtic tree from which the personal name Eburos derives. In Roman times there was a Gaulish tribe called the Eburorovices, who were the 'Warriors of the Yew Tree'. When the Anglo-Saxons arrived in the north from Germany and Denmark in the sixth century they made Eboracum the capital of Deira, a Northumbrian sub-kingdom. Eboracum was corrupted by Anglo-Saxon speech into Eoforwic meaning 'wild boar settlement'. The Anglo-Saxons confused the Celtic word 'Ebor' meaning yew tree with their own word 'Eofor' meaning 'wild boar'. In 865 AD the Danes captured the North and in 876 Halfdene the Dane made Eoforwic the capital of the Viking Kingdom of York . Later in 918 AD a mixed race of Norwegian-Irish Vikings settled at York and for many years York was subordinated to the Viking stronghold at Dublin. Viking influence can still be detected in the street names of York, where the suffix 'gate' as in Stonegate or Goodramgate derives from the Old Norse 'gata' meaning road or way. Stonegate follows the course of a Roman road through the city and Goodramgate is named after Guthrum, a Viking leader. The Vikings interpreted Eoforwic, the Anglo-Saxon name for York as Jorvik. The change of the Saxon f to a Viking V occured in other words in the English language such as the Anglo Saxon word 'Seofan' which was changed by the Vikings into its modern form 'Seven'. In the late Viking period it is thought that the name Jorvik was shortened to something resembling its present form, York and in the medieval age the name York was generally used, although an independent form 'Yerk' is known have existed at this time. One of the problems of studying York's name is that many early records are written in Latin and thus use the Roman name Eboracum in periods when Eoforwic or Jorvik were used in every day speech. Today the early forms of York's name are still well known and although the Viking Kingdom of York no longer exists, its natural successor Yorkshire, 'the county of York' still takes its name from this ancient city.

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